he leadership of Bradford Christian Academy gives much prayer, attention and thought to the artistic choices in our arts and literature programs. This topic is a matter of on-going discussion among our faculty and receives regular attention from the board. As educators and Christians we strive to stir students’ imaginations and to draw them into thoughtful discussion about how we create and engage with art. We teach aesthetics (a high school class devoted to this subject exclusively) to connect what students know about God and who they are as His followers to the analysis of music, literature, plays, and fine art. It is rare for a high school to teach aesthetics, but we are not alone among Christ-followers training the next generations of believers to stay involved with the art of our time. In his essay, “The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing”, Wheaton College Professor Leland Ryken writes,
What is more central to our freedom than this ability to distance ourselves from oppressive givens in order to reinterpret them, to give them meaning and to digest them so as to live them out with dignity? Without this ability to empathize with situations different from our own, could we love the otherness of the other with the necessary respect? To say nothing of the most striking aspect of our imagination: creativity, a gift that makes us for all our weakness, just lower than the angels.
Our goal is to cultivate students who do not isolate themselves from culture. If they do, they will be unlikely to offer authentic love to others.
Our commitment to training thoughtful, culturally aware students is consistent throughout our program. We study mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, and historians who made significant contributions to their field. Many areas of study include world views and ideas that run counter to Christian belief. We choose textbooks that are educationally excellent and not necessarily ones written and published by Christians. We rely on our Christian faculty, men and women who believe and live a genuine faith in Jesus, to journey with students in the difficult business of navigating faith, ideas, and culture. We work hard as a community of educators to “get it right.” This work will go on as long as we are a school.
Clearly lines must be drawn and draw them we do. We believe that Bradford Christian Academy has been consistent in the viewpoint described here since our beginning. However, we don’t claim to draw the lines perfectly. So, where some see the potential for contradiction and compromise, we see room for an on-going, community-wide discussion about art and engagement with culture.
We fully respect that parents are also drawing boundary lines for their children. We communicate with parents regularly on this topic. The board, administration, and faculty prayerfully seek God’s wisdom as we pursue our mission. Our prayer is that as we have these discussions we will extend enough grace to one another to listen, reflect, and learn together so that we all may grow more like Jesus every day. We welcome your prayers with us toward this end and we invite you to join our conversation.
President and Head of School